Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three Vet Vists in 18 hours...

I'm going to start this post by saying, "Holy crap, I need a vacation." The good news is that Dan and I will be leaving tomorrow to go to my cousin's wedding for the weekend. The timing is impeccable...

Where to begin? Let's start with Amy...

Last night Dr. George showed up around 10:00pm to examine Amy's leg. The swelling was massive and she was obviously in a ton of pain. He was worried about either a torn ligament or a broken splint bone. Unfortunately, she wasn't being very clear where the pain was coming from, which made things all the more difficult.

We made plans for him to come back first thing in the morning to take xrays. On his orders, I put her in a compression wrap last night to help minimize the swelling and gave her more banamine. She seemed more comfortable, but still would only touch her toe to the ground, refusing to flex her pastern joint and put weight onto her heel. There wasn't anything else we could do until the morning. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep.

This morning Amy appeared much more comfortable on her right hind leg. She was actually bearing weight on it, which was a huge wave of relief. Dr. George showed up and I pulled her wrap off: the swelling had definitely gone down overnight, but it was still fairly puffy. I helped Dr. George take four radiographs of her leg, even dressing up for the big event. I wore a simply stunning silver lead-lined grey dress with matching blue lead-lined gloves that must weigh 10 pounds a piece. I looked smashing! Good news: all of the radiographs came back clean! No broken splint bone - thank GOD.

As Dr. George was finishing up, Dr. Barnes arrived for Faith. He also evaluated Amy and between the two of them, the consensus was that her injury could either be a stretched ligament, soft tissue damage or a sole abscess that hasn't broken through yet. Regardless of which one it ends up being, it is still better than a broken bone. Whew! If it continues to be a problem, we will have an ultrasound done, but so far, so good.

Just on a side note... I have owned Amy for 10 years next month. She came to me as an abused, barely halter broken four-year-old that would tremble when people came near her. When you opened her stall door, she would literally try to crawl up the corner of the back wall to get away. She was fearful, and she was explosive. But she was never mean. I spent hours upon hours building her trust and it paid off. I bought her in June of 1999 and the picture below is me showing her in September of that same year. This mare is the absolute best horse in the world. (And that's a totally unbiased opinion, of course!) She's sweet, safe and the barn favorite, by a mile. (With the exception of Faith, because, well, she's a celebrity!) Amy has taught tons of kids to ride throughout her years with me, including children with physical and emotional disabilities. I cannot even begin to explain how badly it hurt me to watch her in so much pain.

Amy with me at her first show in 1999.

Amy being shown by my niece at her first show in 2005.

Onto the next topic: Faith...

The first words out of Dr. Barnes' mouth were, "Wow she looks 1000% better." (Yes, that's THREE zeros, thankyouverymuch!) He began running his hands over her body and within a few minutes said to me that her lameness was coming from both left legs.

He quickly narrowed her front end lameness to her hoof. (This is the infamous clubbed foot of hers, so no big suprises there.) He said that the farrier work she has been receiving is great, but the thrush that we can't seem to get rid of may be to blame. Our course of action with this leg is to pack it with diluted-bleach cotton balls and wrap it overnight, which we will start tonight. Hopefully the thrush is the cause and we can fix her front end issues fairly quickly.

Now onto the hind end... Dr. Barnes narrowed down that the soreness was permeating from her stifle and hip. This is more than likely caused by her strained suspensories. When she is standing still, all of her joints in her hind leg are extended straight. Therefore, when she moves, she has to hyperextend them to make each step. The pain could either be coming from an injury to the joint itself or pinched nerve.

He ran a pointer over her back and croup and she winced in pain with every stroke. Dr. Barnes suggested adjusting her pelvis to ease the tension. He stood next to her, hind leg in hand, and picked her hoof to about waist high. She appeared more annoyed than uncomfortable, and she fought him a little bit. He was trying to get her to shift her weight back to make the adjustment, but she refused. He held her leg up and then I was then given the funniest order I've ever heard: "Clock her a good one on the nose." What?! I knew Faith was going to make me pay for this one later, but I walked up to her and flicked her on the end of her nose with my finger. She immediately rocked back and just then I heard the loudest, most awkward popping sound coming from her hip. He put her leg down and she stood on it squarely. He picked up his pointer again and ran it back and forth over the same areas as earlier... No more pain. It was gone. Holy crap. I felt like I just watched the coolest and most rewarding magic trick ever.

Fast forward 5 hours... Right now she's cantering back in forth in her paddock waiting to come in for dinner. Normally she'll walk, maybe even take a few trotting steps, but rarely canter. She is hitting the ground sound on all fours, for the first time ever.

The plan is as follows:
-> Faith's farrier is going to put Faith in hind shoes with trailers to help realign the angle of her pasterns and alleviate the stress on her stifle joint.
-> We'll start lunging her about 5-10 minutes daily to help not only with her suspensories, but to build up strength throughout her back and hindquarters.
-> We will be packing her left front hoof overnight to eliminate the thrush.
-> Dr. Barnes will be back to reevaluate and readjust Faith on May 21st.

When all is said and done, Faith should be sound enough for her new career as a Grand Prix Jumper in no time! OK maybe not. :-)

Faith munching on some hay after her lameness exam - 04/30/09.
Like the new "do"?!


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If it's not one thing, it's another...

Today was a long day, and I want to go to bed. But I can't. The vet is on his way back. Let's start at the beginning...

Our calendar today was full: The farrier was scheduled to put show shoes on 6 horses and the vet was coming to administer spring shots. I had two helpers in the barn today, (I plan these busy days around school vacations purposely,) and things seemed to run fairly smoothly.

By the time our farrier, Isaac, showed up around eleven, we had all of the barn chores done. The horses were turned out, the stalls were picked, the aisle swept, stall buckets and outdoor water tanks scrubbed and refilled. Faith was outside enjoying herself by chewing on one of the geldings' noses.

While Isaac began shoeing the first mare, the girls finished clipping one of the geldings and I began cleaning out and restocking our medical supplies. I thoroughly checked expiration dates on medicines, made lists of items that needed to be replaced, and reorganized our containers. We now have three first aid containers: the "Human" one, the "Equine" one, and the "Faith's Medical Crap" one. They are all labeled accordingly, the last one being the biggest. :-)

Dr. George pulled in the driveway around one o'clock and asked me, "Is that Faith?" Mission accomplished - he didn't recognize her! He said that she looked great and has made an amazing recovery so far. We put her on the cross ties and he listened to her heart and lungs, checked her eyes and teeth, and looked all over for anything out of the ordinary. Everything looked great. I asked him to check on the melanoma that I found underneath her tail, and he said that it appeared to be OK for now and that we should keep monitoring it.

Then it came time for Faith's least favorite part... the needles. Once Dr. George reached into his pocket, she knew what was coming. I blocked her eye with my hand, but it was too late. She gritted her teeth, pinned her ears backward, glared at me and lunged forward. I stopped her, he stabbed her, and just like that she was vaccinated for Rabies. Unhappily vaccinated, but vaccinated nonetheless.

Next was time to draw blood for the Coggins test. By now Faith was angry, there was no doubt about it. But she is smart and knew that she wasn't going to win this fight, so she stood like a statue. Unfortunately every muscle in her body was rigid, which made finding her vein all the more difficult. (And yes, she actually has muscles now!) It took a little while, but Dr. George got his blood sample. Faith was all set to go back out to her private paddock to enjoy the sun.

We finished up with vaccinating the rest of the clan, and with the exception of my old grouchy Morgan, it went fairly smoothly. Dr. George finished up and he went onto his next appointment. A few hours later, Isaac finished up with his work and left. The girls helped me with chores and as we were finishing up feeding the horses their dinner, we noticed there was a problem.

Amy, the chestnut mare that used to be turned out with Faith, was standing in the corner of her paddock with her right hind leg tucked up underneath her. My heart sank in my stomach. I put a halter on her and slowly led her in from her paddock; it took us about 3 minutes to walk up the 150-foot long driveway. She would lower her hoof down to the ground, barely touching her toe to the pavement, and then would hobble over it. I had Dr. George on the phone in an instant. He would come as soon as he could, but he had two other emergencies before mine. He suggested banamine and cold-hosing it if she would stand for it.

For the next half hour, I stood with Amy's leg underneath a constant stream of water. She stood with it elevated off the ground and away from her body. She kept looking at me with pain in her eyes. It was heartbreaking to watch. Thankfully the hosing and banamine started to work and she eventually could rest her toe on the ground. I put her in a stall to rest and I finally had a chance to eat dinner. When I went back downstairs to the barn twenty minutes later, Amy was flat out on her left side, holding her right leg off of the ground. The pain wasn't getting any better.

Waiting for the vet to arrive... Again...


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The "Extreme Mare Makeover" Continues...

It was 93 degrees here today - a heat wave in April! It was gorgeous out, the sun was shining and it felt great, however the heat was a little overkill. (Plus, it's way too early in the year for me to get a farmer's tan!) Tomorrow will be around 65 degrees - much more comfortable and manageable.

Faith will be busy over the next few days:

Tomorrow she will get a health exam by Dr. George and receive her yearly vaccinations and Coggins. (What the heck do I write for "breed" on her Coggins?!) I'm already dreading her shots - Faith is far from being a fan of needles. However, I can hardly wait to show Dr. George how much she has improved since the last time he saw her. I'm hoping he'll be impressed!

Then on Thursday, Dr. Barnes is scheduled to come to the farm to do a lameness exam. Faith and I are going to practice lunging at least one more time before he shows up!

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The "Extreme Mare Makeover", Day 86

Faith went outside around 6am this morning, flirted with a few of the boys, squealed at the rest, munched on hay, and then took an hour long nap in the sun. The heat was just atrocious today, and I figured it would be a great opportunity to encourage the remainder of her winter coat to pack its bags. Every shedding utencil I had came out this afternoon!

After lessons were over, I brought her out behind the barn and gave her a quick bath. She can be a little pushy on the ground, and since I had one of my students holding her, I decided it would be best to put a chain over her nose. Faith was excellent and seemed to enjoy the cool water. (Just FYI: It's much easier to sweat-scrape a horse who has a smooth barrel!)

Lucy brought Faith for a walk around the property while she dried, and Faith was exceptionally well behaved for her. She is a funny horse, that's for sure. She tests me all the time, about everything. However, she is simply an angel with kids! When they lead her, she lowers her head down to their level and follows them like a big puppy dog.

Last week I clipped her whiskers and ears, and gave her a real bridlepath. During this process, I learned that Faith doesn't like clippers. At all. Not even a little. But I stood vigilant on the top step of my mounting block and eventually the old grouch gave in. I just know that I'll pay for that one later. I'm hoping to have time tomorrow to neaten her mane up, but just have this sneaking suspicion that she won't let me pull it. Scissors might just have to do the job!

Enjoy the following pictures! And a special thanks to Lucy for holding Faith during her bath!

This is the best way to get Faith to stand still during a bath - a chain over her nose and food in front of it! (No big suprise there, huh?!)

Walking around with Lucy after her bath to dry in the sun. (Look ma, no ribs!)

Nicole and Lucy showing off how tall Faith is.

Faith going for a walk with Lucy after her bath. (Note the angle of her hind pasterns due to her weak suspensories.)

Enjoying a nice stroll on a beautiful day.


Monday, April 27, 2009

84 Days and Going Strong!

Twelve weeks ago I didn't think I'd be giving updates on Faith's condition. From the moment I saw her, I truly believed in my heart that Dan and I would keep her as comfortable as we could and let her pass peacefully. She proved me wrong, and I couldn't be happier.

Faith came close to giving up a few times, but each time she pulled through for us. For her. She has had her fair share of bad days, but she has dealt with them with grace and perseverance that I have never seen in any human or animal. She is amazing.

Faith continues to improve. The weight tape says she has put on 150 pounds, but I do not believe it. I think she has put on more. Her ribs are nearly invisible under thin coat of fat (I never thought I'd say the "f" word here!), and her hips no longer jut out of her body.

Faith enjoys her time spent outside in the sunshine, playing with the geldings over the fence. She eagerly looks forward to coming in at the end of each day to her stall with clean water buckets, a full hay rack, a bucket of grain and supplements, and clean, fluffy shavings.

Every night when I check on the horses before I go to bed, she nickers to me as I walk past her stall. And every night I go into her stall, pat her on the bridge of her nose and tell her how proud of her I am. She drops her head into my chest, and I put my arms around her head...

...then she sniffs my pockets and when she realizes they're empty, her head comes up, her ears go flat against her neck and she glares at me.

I love this horse. And I'm starting to think she loves me back. :-)

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A cute short story....

One of my students was helping me groom her a few days ago and said to me seriously, "Oh my God, when I poke Faith's shoulder, it jiggles!" as though there was something wrong with her. I quietly laughed and explained that their shoulders should jiggle. She didn't seem to believe me, so she walked around to every horse at our farm and did the "jiggle-poke-test" on each of them. Sure enough, they all passed. She came back appearing satisfied that jiggling was normal and gave Faith a cookie. She told Faith that if she keeps improving so much, we're going to need to start her on Jenny Craig soon.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Faith's Old Roommate Needs a New Home

I was recently contacted by a lady who, shortly after hearing Faith's story, traveled to Loudon, NH and pulled a gelding out of the same farm Faith came from. On March 8, 2009, "Finnegan", an adorable gelding with an endearing face, began the first day of his new life.

Thankfully he was in better shape than Faith when he left, but Finnegan still needed a bit of rehab. He was underweight and was in need of hoof and dental work. Since being removed from his old farm, Finnegan has been making steady improvements with his new owner. He has been ridden in the past, but is currently being worked on the ground until he is better conditioned.

His current owner has put a substantial amount of time and effort into him, and is looking for a permanent home that will love him, care for him and continue his training.

If anyone is interested in providing a loving, long-term home for Finnegan, please email me directly at:


Thursday, April 23, 2009

She Lunges

Faith has an appointment on Thursday, April 30th with Dr. Brad Barnes for a lameness evaluation. Dr. Barnes will watch her move on the lunge line, flex her, and run his expert hands all over her until we can determine the cause of her soreness. Realizing that this is only one short week away, this got me thinking. Does this mare even lunge?

So off we went today, into the arena with a lunge line to find out. I swear she rolled her eyes at me as I hooked the line up to her halter.

With a little shake of the line, Faith slowly walked away from me with her ears half-pinned back. She looked bored and aggravated, as if this was beneath her. We walked for a minute, and she seemed to understand what we were doing. But it was time to ask for a short trot just to make sure.

I clicked to her. No response. I said, "trot". She walked. Shook the line towards her. Nothing. Jumped towards her. Nada. Then I took the end of the line and flicked it towards her butt. Apparently, that is her button.

This mare LEAPT into the air like someone put a rocket up her butt, humped her back, squealed and let out the three biggest bucks I've ever seen. Then she stopped, turned towards me and snorted.

She lunges.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Before and After Photos!

Here are some updated pictures of Faith that I promised! I have mentioned that she is shedding out in patches, so please pardon the appearance while we redecorate her! Her shoulders, butt and face look great; her abdomen, neck and legs... not so much! But we're doing the best we can with a shedding blade and a Furminator...

Here are her ribs and abdomen, on February 2, 2009 and today, April 22, 2009...

Yes, I swear that's the same horse! Notice how much smoother her topline is now. Her ribs are nearly gone (you can still see them in person, but there aren't enough shadows in these pictures to make them stand out). She has built up muscle throughout her back, croup, shoulder, forearm and hindquarters.

And here are pictures of her hip and pelvis, on February 2, 2009 and today, April 22, 2009...

Her spine is no longer exposed above her tailhead, her pelvis no longer juts out of her side! Also, notice the differences in her head carriage between the two pictures.

Doesn't she just have an adorable face?!

She has made amazing progress so far, and the pictures show it! That's what 150 pounds will do!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

11 Weeks of Rehabilitation

77 days and counting!

Faith's rehab thus far has been steadily improving. She has put on about 145 pounds and is about halfway shed out of her winter coat. (I will have pictures available shortly of her half-hairy, half-shiny body.) She still occasionally has colicky nights, but has made consistent progress over the past week. Her attitude is improving and she has continued fighting.

I have started her on Neigh-Lox (the equine version of Maalox) to determine the cause behind her colic episodes. We have decided to try this first before proceeding with the GastroGuard treatments.

Faith is currently receiving the following amounts of feed and supplements per day (divided over two feedings):
-> 4 quarts of Blue Seal Vintage Victory
-> 4 quarts of Blue Seal Hay Stretcher
-> 4 quarts of Purina Equine Senior
-> ProBios - 5 grams
-> Electrolytes - 2 oz
-> Vitamin E Supplement - 10,000 EU
-> Neigh-Lox - 6 oz
-> She still has free-choice hay in front of her at all times, and eats about 7 flakes per day.

Each morning around 7am, I take her out of her stall and put her on the crossties. She stands patiently while her blanket is removed and I begin grooming her. I pick her hooves, being careful to not move her hind legs too quickly or pick them up too high off of the ground. (She is more stiff in her left hind leg, and it is uncomfortable for her to hold it more than 8 inches off the ground while it is bent.) Twice a week I put Thrush Buster around the edges of her frogs and in the dry pockets left from her abscesses. Faith is then led to her paddock to stretch her legs and enjoy the warm spring sun. She has a 100-gallon water tank that she enjoys playing in, using her nose to splash water all over the place. She is smart and has learned how to kick the boys through the fence. She lures them over by calling to them and then nuzzling them, gets them wound up like knots, and then turns, squeals, and kicks at them. Gotta love mares...

Around 7pm, I head to her paddock to bring her inside for her dinner. She trots to the gate and waits for me patiently while I put her halter on. However, as soon as the gate swings open, she transforms into a different horse. With her ears forward and tail flagging, she bolts through the gate and leaps into the air. I say "whoa" in a firm voice and she stops, stares at me blankly, then calmly walks beside me into the barn.


Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all of our "faith"ful followers!

~ Dan, Julie & Faith


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I never thought she was ugly, but...

...look how gorgeous she is looking these days!

(If only I hadn't cut her ear off in the picture... oops!)

Faith's face has mostly shed out, and she is... beautiful! The countless bald spots that riddled the majority of her body are now beginning to grow in. And the hair that is coming in, well it's the shiniest, most unique deep copper color I've ever seen! Hopefully a few weeks from now the rest of her body will match, as well as the halter mark on her nose.

Her summer coat is beginning to grow, her eyes are looking brighter with each passing day, and her attitude is getting, well... grouchier and more demanding! But it all means one awesome thing - she is getting healthier!

Just as a reminder, this is how she looked on Day #1:

I always knew you were a fighter, Faith!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Vet Came Today

Dr. George came around 11am today for Faith's exam. He complimented her condition and said that she looks like a different horse - I completely agree!

The weight tape says that she has put on approximately 120 pounds in the nine weeks she has been here. I asked him if he thought that Faith was gaining weight at a good rate, and he said that she is doing excellent and is coming along at a perfect pace. Music to my ears...

As many of you know, I have been very concerned about her colic episodes over the past week, and Dr. George and I both think that stomach ulcers are to blame. The only way to check for ulcers is to have her scoped. I will have to haul her to the equine hospital, (which is an hour and fifteen minutes away,) at the cost of about $350.00 for the exam. If we find she does in fact have them, treatment with GastroGard is about $37.00 per day - for 30 days. OUCH! So, before we head that route, we decided to run a few blood tests to see if something else could be the problem.

We quickly learned that Faith's demeanor towards Dr. George has definitely changed since they first met in February. She has somehow managed to grow an attitude towards needles, and was a bit of a stinker when it came time to draw blood. (I can't understand why - she has only been stabbed with them a few dozen times since she's been here...) Dr. George was very quiet and patient with her, and once I covered her left eye with my hand, she settled down and let him do his job. I'm the same way with needles - they don't hurt as much if you can't see them. :-)

We should have the results back by tomorrow, and we'll decide on the next step from there. If she needs to be scoped, I'll call the equine hospital tomorrow and set up an appointment with them.

The 4-H kids braided Faith's mane last night. I wanted it done because it keeps falling on both sides of her neck and is difficult to keep groomed. They did it because, "she's a girl and she needs to look pretty". I'm OK with that. :-)

She didn't colic last night, and was eager to go outside today. However, she is getting more and more pushy with each passing day, and wouldn't leave me alone so I could take a picture of her. I would walk away from her, but then she would catch up and cut me off. Then I'd leave her paddock and go to the other side, and she would figure it out and meet me in that spot. At one point, I actually ran away from her, but she trotted and followed me. Mission failed, I gave up and sat down. She came over to me and proceeded to sniff my hair, face, pockets, jeans and boots. Not until she realized that I had absolutely no treats on me, did she walk away and head back to her hay. Picture finally taken. God, I love this horse...


Faith's First Bath - 02/02/09

A friend of mine took these pictures on his cell phone of the day we brought Faith home. I didn't even know he had these until a few days ago, and I thought everyone would like to see them!

If you look along her back in the top picture, you can actually see the vertebrae protruding from her spine. They were taken on a cell phone, so they're not great quality, but it still gives you a good idea of the situation.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Future Plans - A Student's Story

This school year has been focused on the question; what do you want to be doing in fifteen to twenty years? My answer has always simply been, I am not sure, or, I will see in twenty years. Nevertheless, on Monday February 2 to be precise, my answer changed.

On that Monday, Greenwood Stables was holding a routine 4-H meeting. Like every other Monday, I arrived one hour early, to help with evening feed and anything else that needed to be done. Julie, Jenna and Miranda greeted me. We all said “Hi!” to each other and then Julie said something that I had not heard since November:

“Did you hear that we got a new horse?” Julie asked me.
“No you didn’t!” I replied thinking that she was playing a little trick on me.
“No. I am serious. Come and see her.” She stopped smiling for a second.

I still did not believe her as all four of us walked down the barn aisle to the second door on the left. Julie opened the door and told me to go in and see our new horse. All I could manage to get out was something like; Julie I cannot believe you!

What I saw standing in front of me was a sweet tired looking mare, with brown eyes, and fluffy ears. My stare was inturupted by Julie. Even though I didn’t want to I turned to face Julie.

“I just rescued her today from a farm in Loudon, and we just gave her a bath.”

I honestly couldn’t see why she was rescued because I couldn’t see her full body. Then Julie brought her out of her stall so we could dry her off. We took off her blanket and then I could see why Julie took her home.

We worked on drying her until my blowdryer gave out. Then I started brushing her frail body. While I was holding in all my tears, not only for me but for Faith. We put her back in her stall, so she could eat what other horses thought of as just another meal, but what she thought of as a once in a lifetime chance at eating.

The 4-H kids came and Julie slowly pulled out my favorite horse. The little ones gasped when we removed her blanket. I used to say she reminded me of a little girl just learning how to walk the balance beam. Carefully placing one foot in front of the other.

Julie had told them what she had told everyone else. At the end of the meeting, some of the parents came up to meet our new addition. Many just looked and stared as had I and others were furious, but most just asked how this could have happened to this poor mare. The night had to end sometime and Julie had to pry me from Faith because I would not let go of her.

I am going to fast forward through the next two weeks that for everyone who fell in love with this horse, was like riding the waves of the ocean during a hurricane. In addition, all I wanted to do was something that I knew I could not. That was to be with Faith every second, of the day and every day of the week.

Week three started looking better. The same goes with week four and week five. Now it is officially week six. Just the other day Faith did something unbelievable! Well by now I am sure you know her friends Amy and Dominic, so when she turned out with them, Amy chased after Faith. Faith did what she wanted and that was to do a nice huge buck in Amy’s face! I stopped breathing for a moment that her decision may have been the wrong thing to do, but once again, she proved me wrong by sticking the landing. Apparently, Amy and Dominic were not expecting this either because they just stood there looking at her.

I love this mare no matter how skinny, fat, short or tall. She would still be special. There is not one thing that I would not do for this horse, whether it is what Julie refers to as TOMA or something better or worse. I mean hey - all of my school clothes have a permanent smell of hay on them from putting flakes in her hay-rack!

What this horse has taught me is that there are still people out there that just do not care about what is happening in their own front and or back yard. Not only that, but also the fact that the whole world can come together to watch one mares progress from being on the fine line of life and death, to achieving what ever she can in the long road of rehabilitation ahead.

Faith has also showed me what I want to do with my life so instead of not be able to answer that one question; what do you want to be doing in fifteen to twenty years?

Now I can say that I want to have a master’s degree in business administration, and behavioral science. Therefore, I can run a horse rescue along with a therapeutic riding center. Therefore, I can give back to the community that has helped Faith.

I would like to thank Julie for rescuing this beloved horse, and for being, the strong person for both Faith and her students needed her to be through the journey so far. In addition, I would like to thank everyone who is reading this right now, for supporting Julie and Faith through the tough times.

~Margaret M

Margaret & Faith - March 31, 2009


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Having a good day, so far!

Faith is doing much better today! Last night was the worst colic episode she's had, with the exception of the first couple of weeks she was here. We are assuming that this is heat-related and are keeping our fingers crossed that it will pass. Hopefully I can get a full night's sleep tonight...

Faith was turned out this morning around 8am and happily trotted around her paddock when I pulled her halter off. Around 5:00pm it began sprinkling out, so I headed out to her paddock to bring her in. The second she saw me heading her way, she began nickering like crazy and cantered over to me! What a huge improvement from 8 weeks ago!

I am quickly beginning to learn that Faith's patience and ground manners are directly related to her mood and health. The healthier she gets, the more pushy and impatient she is. Now that she's feeling better overall, we'll be working more on the "my space, your space" ideology.

Unfortunately due to Faith's excessive and uncontrollable hormones, I am way behind in paperwork and lesson plans, so I need to cut this short. Enjoy the adorable picture of Faith and my student Miranda enjoying a special moment on March 16th. Tomorrow I will be posting a story written by another student of mine for everyone to enjoy!


Same as last night...

After staying up four out of five nights with Faith this week, this post is going to be short and unedited because I'm exhausted, it's 3 hours past my bedtime, and I can actually hear my pillow calling my name right now...

Faith is having another bout of colic tonight. This will make #3 this week. She was a tad more grouchy today than usual, but seemed comfortable overall. Although she didn't eat quite as much as she normally does, she finished her grain and ate a decent amount of hay throughout the day. I spent time grooming and rewrapping her as I normally do each evening, and she was eager for her dinner at 6:30pm.

When I returned at 9:00pm, Faith was down in her stall. She was laying on her right side, facing away from the stall door. I went in with her and noticed she was sweaty around her abdomen and hindquarters again. She kept looking back at her abdomen, obviously in greater discomfort than she was the night before. I quickly went upstairs to change into my barn boots, and while I was in the house I heard a crashing sound and loud banging. I ran back downstairs to find her now laying on her left side, with her front foot wedged in between the stall door and the wooden lip in the doorway. I am unfortunately home alone tonight, so this situation was just my luck...

One phone call and three minutes later, I had a my dad and a friend of mine helping me. I had a shot of tranq in one hand in case she panicked, and a shot of banamine in the other. (Tranq'ing her is the absolute last thing I want to do with her, but at the same time I didn't want her panicking and injuring herself.) We managed to slide the door open and Faith remained quiet and stayed put. I got a halter on her, gave her the banamine, and let her rest for a few minutes so it would take effect. Since one of her front hooves was on the cement aisle, we dragged a rubber mat over for more traction.

She decided to get up on her own a few minutes later, without any forewarning. It was a valiant set of efforts on her part, as each of her legs went in every direction and she nearly landed on top of me when all was said and done. She appeared weak as she staggered out of her stall, but regained her composure after a few steps. She stood on the crossties while I checked her TPR & CRT, and all were within normal limits. Her breathing is still more labored than normal.

Dr. George is fairly certain that this is related to her heat cycle, but is also concerned about possible stomach ulcers. He said he will come look at her tomorrow definitely, or tonight if I thought there was a problem, but she appears stable and comfortable for now. I will call back when the clinic opens in the morning to see if he can come out in the afternoon.

And thank you to everyone who has posted comments about their mares having bad heat cycles. Although I'm sure it's not fun for you at all, it makes me feel so relieved to think that all of this could be attributed to a hormonal imbalance, and not something worse. Thanks again!

That fluffy pillow is screaming my name now, so I'm off to bed! Unfortunately only to get up in 2 hours and check on her again...


Friday, April 3, 2009

Not Many Changes...

I checked on Faith every couple of hours last night, and her attitude and behavior did not seem to change. Her temp remained consistent and her sweating ended. She finished the rest of her grain around 2am, but still has not touched any of her hay. I pulled it out of her stall and gave her some "fresh" stuff to entice her, but she's not interested. I'll keep monitoring her throughout the day.

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TBDancer made a comment last night that this may be to her being in season - thanks for bringing that up! We had a new horse arrive thjs past weekend and he was successful at licking her face over the fence and getting her to come into heat. (Apparently it doesn't take much these days...) This could definitely be why her attitude has changed, but I've never had a mare that has altered their eating habits so drastically due to a hormonal change. Have any of you experienced this? I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the cause of her recent behavior and discomfort.

Thanks for everyone's advice and well wishes! It means a lot!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Discouraging Day

Slightly disappointing news...

I heard back regarding the DNA test - Faith is not the horse we thought she was. :( The positive side of this, is that if it were her, it would make her 23 years old. We have thought all along that she is about 17. It certainly doesn't hurt us at all to have a "younger" age on her!

The bad news...

Faith is a little colicky tonight. She ate most of her grain, but hasn't touched her hay. (Apparently she doesn't like the flavor of her Vitamin E supplement, and since adding it, she takes her time eating her grain. For a horse that was nearly starved to death, she's pretty damn fussy!) Normally by this time she eaten the majority of her hay, and it looks like she has only eaten about one half of a flake.

I went into her stall and she seemed uber-grouchy, more so than her usual self. When I put my hand up to her abdomen, she immediately swung her head back towards me with her ears pinned back. She is somewhat sweaty over her hing quarters, and has a little steam coming off of her. She isn't showing any other symptoms of colic per se, but it's obvious that something isn't right with her tonight. Her gut sounds are normal, TPR all within range, CRT is good. She has been eating and drinking well all day, and spent about 8 hours outside.

I just walked her for about 15 minutes and I'm going to keep my eye on her for the next half hour. If need be, I'll give her some banamine and hopefully that will help her out. Keep your fingers crossed...

Keep hanging in there, sweetheart!

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10:10 Update

I just spoke with Dr. George on the phone and he suggested hand-walking, banamine, and monitoring her. He told me to call back if I had any questions or needed him. (I feel so bad calling him so late at night, but it's so nice to hear an encouraging and helpful voice on the other end!)

Faith's pulse is 48 bpm and her temp was 100.6. Her breaths are deep, her abdomen expanding more than normal. (She has always been a "gut" breather, but now it is slightly more labored.) She still seems a bit lethargic, but she has stopped sweating and appears a little more comfortable.